CPA girls ride dominant defense into Class AA state title game

Friday, March 9, 2012 at 4:42pm
Staff reports

Faith LeGate and Lauren Thompson each made five field goals, and Christ Presbyterian Academy used a dominant defensive effort in the second half to defeat top-ranked Livingston Academy 49-31 on Friday in the TSSAA Class AA girls state basketball tournament at Murfreesboro.

The Lions (35-3), who have won 23 in a row, will play Obion County (34-2) for the state championship, 2 p.m. Saturday.

Obion County is ranked No. 3 in the state. Memphis Manassas, which unranked CPA defeated in Wednesday's quarterfinals, was No. 6.

“Before the game, we didn’t say anything about Livingston’s ranking, we were just concerned about ourselves and how we well we would play," coach Becky LeGate said. “But we have certainly used [the fact CPA was unranked] for motivation big time.’’

CPA shot 39.5 percent (17-for-43) from the floor but led for all but the first four and a half minutes. LeGate made a field goal 1:58 into the contest and Meredith Roman made 3-pointer a little more than four minutes later that started and ended, respectively, a 9-0 run that put the Lady Lions ahead to stay.

They made one other 3-pointer (by Sami Elefante) in the opening period but none after that. However, they limited Livingston Academy (33-4) to four second-half field goals and 36.4 percent shooting for the game.

CPA led by nine at halftime, 28-19, and then allowed six points each in the third and fourth quarters. Livingston committed 24 turnovers in the game and was scoreless for a stretch of 6:45 that included parts of the third and fourth quarters.

“I’m usually really nervous to start a game, but for some reason I was very calm this time," Faith LeGate said. “I felt if I got off to a good start, that would give our team an even better chance to win."

LeGate and Thompson were a combined 10-for-19 from the field while the rest of the team was 7-for-24 (29.2 percent). LeGate led all scorers with 13 points, all but one of which she scored in the first half. Thompson added 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

Marlee Sells had a team-high 12 points off the bench for Livingston Academy.

“Back at the start of the season, we had T-shirts with the word ‘Finish’ and ‘3-10-12’ [the date of the state finals] printed on the back," Thompson said. “It’s just weird, almost surreal, to see this all coming together."